Thursday, June 29, 2006

"It Was Not You Who Chose Me...."

What a week it's been for Donald Wuerl.

Seven days after the Installation of the Century in which he took possession of the archdiocese of Washington, Wuerl's ascent to the US hierarchy's top tier was reaffirmed this morning when he received his pallium at the hands of Benedict XVI.

The only thing missing was the red hat. Suffice it to say, it won't be missing for long.

While many of the new archbishops seemed anxious or overwhelmed when, each in their turn, they knelt before Pope Benedict to receive the band of lamb's wool which marks the "fullness of the episcopal office," Archbishop Wuerl's face bore a look of reserved exuberance. Their familiarity with each other -- the archbishop met briefly with the Pope shortly after the Washington appointment was announced -- was clear, and the two could be seen engaging in conversation as opposed to the platitudes which often mark the bestowal of the pallium.

The only prelate to get a noticeably bigger chunk of face-time before the Fluffiness was Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, now of Naples. And it seems Sepe's ditched his glasses, to boot.

Should any of you be interested in charity -- and my inbox tells me that not too many people are these days -- in his homily this morning, Benedict yet again pulled out the line from St Ignatius of Antioch that the bishop of Rome "presides in charity." It's the third or fourth time he's used it to date.

"The charge of Peter is anchored to the prayer of Jesus," Benedict said. "It is this that gives him the sureness of perseverance across all human miseries. And the Lord entrusts this charge to him in the context of the Meal, in connection with the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. The Church, in its innermost self, is a eucharistic community and so a communion in the Body of the Lord. The task of Peter is that of presiding over this universal communion; of keeping it present also in the world as a visible unity. He, together with all the Church of Rome, must -- as St Ignatius of Antioch put it -- preside in charity; to preside in the community of that love given by Christ which, ever anew, surpasses the limits of our lacking in order to carry the love of Christ even to the ends of the earth." (Whispers translation)

AP/Pier Paolo Cito